Oxford arrived at Portman Road, hoping to capitalise on their midweek victory with a solid away point.
What happened was beyond ambition. Having weathered the storm for 40 minutes, a period which saw Ipswich miss all angles of attempts, wide, high and misplayed, Oxford got a chance – two actually.
The first chance came from a break, a loose ball bobbled in front of Nolan, but despite the ref being within 10 yards, Marcus Browne’s off the floor, two-footed lunge connected with the ball, spun it wide for his cohort Taylor to strike goalward- thankfully Holy was fit to stop.
Minutes later, a break once more from the orchestral Browne, ping-passing as though the game was playing on the 90s hit ‘Sensible Soccer’. Three deft plays cut through Ipswich’s midfield and defence, leaving Taylor just six yards to slot home from.
A chorus of boos met the half time whistle, Ipswich once more not converting a multitude of chances, and being punished.
Today became of those ‘What if” games, Oxford came out for the second-half with the intention to stall, stifle and frustrate Ipswich, and they proceeded to do just that.
Edwards had Ipswich’s seemingly best chance, a flick from the usually ground-based Keane catching Gwion off-guard just four yards out, smacking into his knees and safely to the keeper Eastwood’s hands.
In truth, Ipswich looked better in the middle, but with Chambers looking more like the retiring skipper than the leader he professes to be, the great new hope of Woolfenden was caught supporting him too many times. Oxford should have scored again, on more than one occasion, but chose to be negative.
On-loan Josh Earl tried to maraud forward but was left with no support. Downes was having to run a midfield containing a misfiring Nolan and a shadow-of-last-week’s Judge. Even Garbutt found himself wanting for playmakers.
With little-to-no time left in the game, Kayden Jackson, on his birthday, tangled with the Oxford #4 Dickie, who stayed down. And, in a moment of madness, Jackson stood/stamped on the grounded defender.
After consultation with the assistant Jackson was sent for a birthday wash-down, moments before the final whistle.
There was still time, however, for a 16-man brawl in front of the away fans, the time-wasting ball in the corner proving a blue touch-paper for what was an ill-tempered match.
Ipswich and Oxford are both pushing for promotion, but on today’s showing neither are up to the challenge, although momentum may creep Oxford in on the finishing straight. Ipswich, however, are left ruing another ‘one of those games’ where a win was on the table but they have claimed a loss, instead.
11 games to go, Ipswich sit in eighth, needing more points from fewer games than their rivals for the Holy Land that is the Sky Bet Championship.